|THE FIRST TEXAN (director: Byran Haskin; screenwriter: story by Daniel B. Ullman/Daniel B. Ullman; cinematographer: Wilfrid Cline; editor: George White; music: Roy Webb; cast: Joel McCrea (Sam Houston), Felicia Farr (Katherine Delaney), Wallace Ford (Henry Delaney), Jeff Morrow (Jim Bowie), Abraham Sofaer (Judge, Don Carlos), Jody McCrea (Baker), Maurice Jara (Pablo Dominguez), James Griffith (Davy Crockett), Rodolfo Hoyos (Col. Cos), David Silva (Gen. Santa Ana), Frank Puglia (Pepe), Carl Benton Reid (Andrew Jackson), Roy Roberts (Sam Sherman), Lane Chandler (Jim Fannin), William Hopper (William B. Travis), Dayton Lummis (Stephen Austin), Salvador Báguez (Don Juan Veramendi), (Col. Hockley); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Walter Mirisch; Allied Artists; 1956)|
decent and sincere but flat and too respectful
biopic of Sam Houston."
by Dennis Schwartz
Haskin ("Tarzan's Peril"/"The War of the
Worlds"/"Treasure Island") directs this agreeable,
decent and sincere but flat and too respectful biopic
of Sam Houston. It's based on a story by Daniel
B. Ullman, who also handles the script.
soon to be divorced ex-Tennessee governor Sam Houston
(Joel McCrea), claiming he's through with politics
after a short term in office in 1828, crosses the Red
River into Texas in December 1832 and vows to start a new life as a
lawyer. In San
Antonio, Sam stops at the local inn, where the Free Texas
Movement is meeting. The group is led by Jim Bowie (Jeff
fellow independence seekers wanting to free Texas from
Mexican rule, Pablo Dominguez (Maurice
William B. Travis (William Hopper), Jim Fannin (Lane
Chandler), Stephen Austin (Dayton Lummis) and Jim's
father-in-law, Don Juan Veramendi (Salvador
Báguez). When the radicals are arrested by the Mexican government's
Col. Cos (Rodolfo Hoyos) for plotting an
insurrection, Houston successfully defends them in
court and wins the case over a technicality of
jurisdiction when under martial law.
Sam rents office space for his law practice that's owned by furniture shop owner Henry Delaney (Wallace Ford) and falls in love with his lovely niece Katherine (Felicia Farr), hiring her as his secretary. The reluctant to get involved in politics Sam gets involved in the fight for Texas independence when urged to by President Andrew Jackson (Carl Benton Reid). When Gen. Santa Ana (David Silva) becomes livid that his brother-in-law, Col. Cos, was humiliated by the freeing of those agitators arrested he sends an army into Texas. After the Alamo massacre, taking place off-screen, Sam, now a general, captures Santa Ana and Texas becomes free and Sam Houston becomes its first president.
REVIEWED ON 10/13/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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